On Thursday 24 February, all COVID-19 restrictions ended, and free mass testing ended on Friday 1 April 2022. However, NHS staff and patients in England must continue to follow the latest government guidance applicable to healthcare settings.
The UK infection prevention and control guidance published by UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and accompanying letter from NHS England and NHS Improvement published on 14 April 2022, outlines the protocols to transition back to pre-pandemic measures. The national infection prevention and control manual for England supplements this, detailing how NHS organisations can ensure a successful transition.
NHS England and NHS Improvement has published Living with COVID-19 white paper (23 February 2022), their Living with COVID-19 – testing (30 March 2022) and additional guidance on managing healthcare staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection or a positive COVID-19 test result can be found on the GOV.UK website.
From 24 February 2022, the government:
- ended the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test
- ended routine contact tracing, and no longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 to test daily for seven days
- removed the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate.
From 1 April 2022, the government encouraged people with COVID-19 symptoms to exercise personal responsibility.
NHS staff office workers will no longer be required to work from home. Employers in the NHS should continue to talk to their employees to discuss and agree on arrangements on whether they would like to return to the office. It is important to note that COVID-19 remains a risk, therefore, employers should support their staff to work from home if they can to prevent the spread of the virus. Our enabling and supporting staff to work from home web page has information on how to support staff.
On 17 January 2022, the government announced that self-isolation can end after five full days, following two negative lateral flow device (LFD) tests taken 24 hours apart on day five and day six.
In the government guidance, Managing healthcare staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection or a positive COVID-19 test result, all healthcare staff who have received a positive COVID-19 test result, regardless of whether they have symptoms, are advised not to attend work for five days. They should follow guidance for people with a positive COVID-19 test result.
NHS staff testing - updated 26 April 2022
Employers should follow guidance issued by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) on staff testing procedures. This states:
- patient facing NHS staff should continue to test twice weekly when asymptomatic
- symptomatic NHS staff should test themselves using LFDs. LFD tests will continue to be available through the gov.uk portal for NHS staff in England with symptoms
- staff who test positive should continue to follow the managing healthcare staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection or a positive COVID-19 test result guidance
- staff who are household contacts of a positive COVID-19 case will now be able to continue to work as normal if they remain asymptomatic and continue to test twice weekly. They will no longer be required to have a PCR test in order to return to work.
Please read the guidance in full for more information.
NHS Employers resources
We continue to update our COVID-19 web pages information: